While Bavarian shoe stores were forced to close down again as of April 12, all types of non-essential retailers, including shoe and sporting goods stores, were allowed to re-open in England and Wales, and some of them have come up with clever ideas to lure back customers who could only shop online in the past weeks and months.
Selfridges, one of the few department store chains that have weathered the coronavirus crisis relatively well, launched some interesting and captivating “experiential” offerings at its stores in London, Birmingham and Manchester this Monday.
Its Oxford Street flagship opened its first “Outside Studio” behind the store, offering spinning classes in partnership with SoulCycle. The store is also featuring children’s parties in its toy department. In three stores, DJs entertained the public throughout the day, giving customers the opportunity to request their favorite songs with a text message.
The British Retail Consortium has estimated that non-food stores have lost some £27 billion (€31bn-$37bn) in sales from 16 weeks of lockdowns in the U.K., leading to more than 11,000 permanent store closures and some clamorous bankruptcies. On the other hand, some retailers have reacted by selling more online, directly or through internet marketplaces, and by refurbishing their stores with the new omni-channel consumer in mind.
Other retailers have waited until this week to open new stores. Gym+Coffee, an Irish brand of sustainable athleisure, will inaugurate its 7th store and the second one in the U.K. in Manchester’s Trafford Centre on April 17. The 140-square-meter location will feature an interactive football display on a community wall for user-generated content from fans. Born four years ago, the Irish brand is involved in a number of social and environmental initiatives.
McArthur Glenn has waited until April 12 to open its seventh Designer Outlet Centre at Cheshire Oakes near Birmingham, offering discounts of up to 60 percent on the offerings by nearly 80 brands including Lacoste, Lululemon, Adidas, Asics, Nike and Under Armour.
Non-essential retailers in Scotland will be able to re-open on April 26. No precise dates have been given for retailers in Northern Ireland, but the Republic of Ireland has indicated that this should be possible sometime in May.
As previously reported, a Bavarian judge ruled on March 31 that shoe shops should be included among the exceptions to the lengthy German retail lockdowns because they are performing an “essential service.” The plaintiff in the case, ANWR, expressed hope that the exception could be applied to shoe and sporting goods stores all over Germany, but the Bavarian government overruled the court on April 7, supporting the federal government’s decree permitting the re-opening of non-essential retail stores only in areas where fewer than 50 out of 100,000 inhabitants are contaminated. Click-and-Meet would be permissible where the ratio lies below 100 for seven consecutive days. Only a few areas currently qualify for this kind of treatment.
The government decree is going to be discussed in both chambers of the federal government in the next days. Statistics indicate that even some stores where Cick & Meet is allowed have lost almost half of their turnover. According to a recent study, the situation may not improve much if only customers with a negative Covid test are admitted into a store.
Complaining that the government’s package of subsidies intended to compensate the shops’ closure has been too little and too late, HDE, the German retail industry association released a study showing that nearly 60 percent of the affected retailers are afraid that they will have to shut down for good this year. HDE is especially worried over the fate of independent family-owned retailers and of some large retail chains. For them, the monthly limits set by European authorities for these subsidies are too low, it argues.
According to the April 9 edition of FESI‘s weekly overview of national anti-Covid measures, non-essential shops were allowed to open again in Austria on April 11 after a brief new lockdown period, but with restrictions on the number of customers and with the stores located in Lower Austria and Burgenland remaining closed for one more week.
Almost all non-essential stores remain closed in the Czech Republic except for those selling children’s shoes or clothing, which were allowed to re-open again on April 12 in connection with the re-start of some schools.
Restrictions on non-essential retail remain in place in Italy and Spain, varying from one region to the other.